Difference Between Concrete and Abstract Thinking (With Table)

Ideas are the result of thinking. Throughout the day, humans think a lot of stuff, which could be about the daily routine or decision-making for some particular scenario. The human brain processes about 6200 thoughts in a waking day. There are two types of thought processes that the ideas can be categorized in, Abstract thinking and Concrete thinking. 

Concrete Thinking vs Abstract Thinking

The main difference between Concrete Thinking and Abstract Thinking is that Abstract Thinking refers to the process of thinking deeply about some abstract idea. On the other hand, concrete thinking is the process of thinking on the surface level. This involves thinking about physical things that can be felt, done, or processed by someone.

Concrete thinking as the name suggests refers to thinking about the everyday physical objects that can be felt, observed, and acted upon. This type of thinking is a part of our survival instinct, which involves thinking about our livelihood, including factors such as the source of food and shelter, and the improvement that can be made to it.

Abstract thinking is the process of thinking deeply about abstract ideas. These involve emotions such as love, hatred, anger, and other abstract thoughts that are not real, but a concept of our intelligence. Abstract thinking is the process of analyzing these thoughts with more depth, arriving at solutions to the various dilemma of the mind.

Comparison Table Between Concrete Thinking and Abstract Thinking

Parameters of ComparisonConcrete ThinkingAbstract Thinking
DefinitionConcrete thinking refers to the process of thinking about physical things from the surface levelAbstract thinking is the process of thinking deeply about abstract ideas
Ideas involvedIdeas relating to the survival instinct are involvedAbstract ideas such as emotions like love, anger, hatred are involved in abstract thinking
Level of thinkingThinking involves only the surface levelA deep level of thinking is involved
ScenariosThis type of thinking occurs during the assessment of the surroundingsThis type of thinking occurs during important decision making
Pace of thinkingQuick thinking is performedThis is a time-consuming process

What is Concrete Thinking

Concrete thinking is the exact opposite of Abstract thinking. It is the process of thinking about physical things, such as job, money, house, from the surface level. This is not a deep thinking process rather it is more concerned with quick decision making. Concrete thinking is an example of the survival instincts in animals. Concrete thinking can be observed in all kinds of animals, as it is a part of their survival instinct.

Every animal has to constantly think and plan about things related to its survival. This includes the source of food, shelter, ways of escaping a dangerous situation, etc. in all these cases, quick decision-making after analyzing the surroundings is very important. This is where concrete thinking comes in. Analyzing the situation, understanding the stakes, getting a complete view of the surroundings, all this is part of concrete thinking.

Thus concrete thinking is the process of understanding the surroundings from the surface level so that a decision can be quickly made to quickly and without spending much time, react to that situation. A concrete thinker doesn’t spend a lot of time processing the facts of the situation. Rather they would try to understand the important details of the situation as fast as possible so that they can use the facts to their advantage.

What is Abstract Thinking?

Abstract thinking refers to the process of thinking deeply about abstract ideas. These include emotions such as love, anger, hatred, disgust, and other abstract concepts that cannot be felt or touched. The level of thinking here is very deep, and there are layers to the process. As abstract ideas don’t end at one single point, the thinking is long and can reach deep pints of the mind.

This can also invoke the process of self-exploration, as abstract ideas are as much related to other people and the scenario, as they are related to ourselves. Thus the thinking is long and leads to the generation f different perspectives, and views about the idea. This gives rise to new ways of solving any issue or dilemma.

Abstract thinking is the starting point of ideas of freedom and liberation. Many freedom fighters and philosophers were abstract thinkers. Thus understanding the root cause of some issues can only be achieved from abstract thinking. This is what separates abstract thinking from concrete thinking, as concrete thinking is only concerned with the surface level or apparent issue, and not with the root cause. Understanding a dilemma completely can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Hence abstract thinking is a long and time-consuming process.

Main Differences Between Concrete Thinking and Abstract Thinking

  1. Concrete thinking is the process of thinking about physical things from the surface level. Abstract thinking is the process of thinking deeply about abstract ideas.
  2. In Concrete thinking, the ideas related to the survival instinct are involved. Ideas such as emotions like love, anger, hatred are involved in Abstract thinking.
  3. Only surface level thinking is involved in Concrete thinking. The level of thinking is deep in the case of Abstract thinking.
  4. Concrete thinking is done to quickly assess the situations and consider the important details of the facts. Abstract thinking is done while making important decisions related to the abstract ideas.
  5.  Concrete thinking is quick. Abstract thinking is time consuming.

Conclusion

The human brain processes almost 6200 thoughts in a waking day. These thoughts are related to the personality, the livelihood, and the situations aced by a person. Some of these thoughts can be very deep and can sometimes invoke ideas of self-reflection and self-exploration. Such thoughts are related to Abstract Thinking, where abstract ideas are involved. Concrete thinking is the process of thinking about the concrete or physical things in our lives. These include things like job, money, home, and other factors that influence the survival of a person. On the other hand, Abstract Thinking is the process of thinking deeply about abstract ideas such as love, hatred, anger, that could lead to feelings of satisfaction and self-exploration.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103106001910
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929314000516
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.177
  4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797611398494
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